Trainees being show the use of a sliding caliper to measure panicle diameter. Photo: H Falalou, ICRISAT

Capacity building for improved germplasm security in West and Central Africa

Trainees being show the use of a sliding caliper to measure panicle diameter. Photo: H Falalou, ICRISAT

Trainees being show the use of a sliding caliper to measure panicle diameter. Photo: H Falalou, ICRISAT

ICRISAT’s regional Genebank in Niamey organized a 30-day training program for national research staff in Central African Republic. Training in collecting, conservation, management and utilization of plant genetic resources also aimed at securing these resources in Central Africa Republic in the context of civil unrest.

The training on germplasm acquisition demonstrated various ways of assembling germplasm, strategies and experiences from expedition missions. The training also gave an overview of data collection, mostly the passport data (Minimum Common Passport Data) and the collection of traditional knowledge. The trainees also had the opportunity to attend a training workshop organized in collaboration with the Niger National Agricultural Institute (INRAN). During the workshop, important regulatory and policy aspects related to plants genetics resources were explained. Participants were also trained in data collection tools including a field book application for use during germplasm collecting missions.

The second session of the training was in field activities conducted by the genebank, i.e., germplasm characterization and regeneration where trainees learned to plan characterization and regeneration trials, and prepare land based on existing infrastructure. They also participated in sorghum regeneration sowing in the field. They were trained in sibbing and cluster bagging to learn how to ensure genetic purity and maintain intra accession diversity in pearl millet regeneration. For the characterization, they learned and practiced data collection on groundnut, pearl millet and sorghum in the fields. They used the descriptors developed by ICRISAT and Bioversity International to collect the characterization data. Descriptors for ICRISAT non mandate crops were also shared with the participants

The third session focused on seed processing from crop area (after harvest) to laboratory analysis, including seed characterization. Trainees practiced all post-harvest seed handling activities of groundnut in the crop area and they characterized pods and seeds in laboratory. Seed moisture content and viability tests using ISTA standards for three crops were performed. Data computation and interpretation were also taught. At the end of this session, trainees were able to handle main seed laboratory equipment and materials such as the oven, the desiccator and the growth chamber.

The fourth session of the training focused on seed conservation and monitoring in cold room. This session began with a lecture on the characteristics of seeds prior to conservation and the storage rooms’ conditions for seed quality preservation. This was followed by practical session on seed sealing, organization of drying, short-, medium- and long-term rooms to optimize space. Management of accessions during conservation was also explained and demonstrated.

The last session of the training covered data management, seed distribution conditions and processes. Data management tools such as Microsoft Excel, SQL Server and database management were taught to the participants.

ICRISAT Niamey Genebank staff Marzanatou Yahaya, Illiassou Ibrahim, Nana Fassouma Maman, Falke Bacharou Achirou, Mahamadou Gado Djibo, Liman Souley Abdoulkarim and Hamidou Falalou oversaw the training.

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